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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2002 May;3(5):339-49.

The hypocretins: setting the arousal threshold.

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Department of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Over a short period in the late 1990s, three groups converged on the discovery of a neuropeptide system, centred in the dorsolateral hypothalamus, that regulates arousal states, influences feeding and is implicated in the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Subsequent studies have illuminated many aspects of the circuitry of the hypocretin (also called orexin) system, which also influences hormone secretion and autonomic homeostasis, and have led to the hypothesis that most human narcolepsies result from an autoimmune attack against the hypocretin-producing neurons. The biochemical, physiological and anatomical components that regulate the switch between waking and sleeping are becoming clear. The rapidity with which the hypocretin story has emerged is a testament to both the conceptual and the technical evolution of genomic science in the past two decades.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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